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Bandu: Can Monitoring Your Stress Levels Help Lower Them?

The older I get the more stress I seem to have in my life.  Between work, education, family, and hobbies there is always something else I should be doing, but simply don’t have the time for.  The world we live in is increasingly filled with more demands than we could ever possibly meet.

We have amazing new technologies that help make our lives better, but there is little that can be done for how overwhelmed our society has become.  With all of the added stress that our lives bring, maybe the only way to really reduce our stress is to realize where it is occurring and then look to reduce it.

Neumitra is a company that is working to do just that.  They have developed a new wearable device that can monitor your stress levels in order to help you lower that stress and improve your life.

The Bandu looks similar to a wristwatch and tracks your stress levels tying them to specific locations so that you can physically see where your highest stress levels are.  Once you realize where those locations are you can take steps to lower your stress there.  In tandem with tracking your stress the Bandu can also alert you to when your stress level is rising and provide suggestions for ways to lower that stress.

This seems to be the next step in these types of devices.  We have been able to monitor various health indicators for quite awhile, but now these devices are also providing solutions to those problems.

For more information about the Bandu, including screenshots and a demo video, you can visit their indiegogo site.

You can also read an interview with the company’s founder, Robert Goldberg, at MedGadget.com.

October 30, 2012 I Written By

Where You Live Affects What You Eat Infographic

Ever wonder about the eating habits of people that live in San Francisco or Philly? How about Tokyo or Sao Paulo? This infographic takes a look into what people in different cities around the world eat, and assign them a “health rating,” which shows the average percentile of fit/fat health ratings on the Eatery. For Tokyo, the creators of this infographic said they weren’t sure why their rating was so low. That perplexed me a little bit as well, seeing as their top foods include fish, curry, and tofu. I couldn’t overall relate to one specific city, but felt more like my eating habits were a mix of all these cities. Another great infographic from Massive Health.

October 29, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Striiv Ups the Standard for Pedometers — Games, Challenges, and Charity Incorporated

The amount of pedometers I have owned in my life is a bit ridiculous. Granted, most of them have been free, or cost less than five dollars…but the fact of the manner is — I usually end up losing them as a result of forgetting to use it in the first place.

Striiv, a company that aims to create products that get people walking, has recently come out with two new products to achieve that goal. The first, a $99 pedometer that has tons of features. And the second? Something that anyone who tends to lose pedometers will appreciate.

Both the pedometers were created with activity based games with one goal in mind — to get people moving. The actual pedometer “turns 10,000 steps a day into playing a game, donating to charity, and competing with friends,” according to the Strivv website.

It really looks like a lot of fun. The device is pretty small, and looks like a cell phone. It tracks steps, mileage, and has challenges and tournaments. One of the coolest things about the device is that the more the user uses it, the more customized the experience becomes. It starts to learn habits and adapt to lifestyles. And instead of simply just showing the amount of calories burned, or miles walked, the device shows food items that have been burned, and shows distances like walking across the golden gate bridge.

Every step a person walks while using the Striiv Smart Pedometer, money gets donated to charity. This is a free service to the user, and goes to a great cause.

It also has a fun fitness game called “My Land.” Here is the description of it from the website:

MyLand is the first ever fitness based game on a pedometer. The concept is simple. You start with an enchanted island and your goal is to bring back the animals that inhabit the island by planting the building trees and places to live. Everything you build is based on how much you walk, run, and take the stairs though. So the more you move, the more you progress.

For anyone that likes games or is competitive, this sounds like the perfect motivation!

Now for those who can’t afford the $99 price tag, or just simply want to incoporate a pedometer into their phone, the free app from Striiv is a great idea. I mean, I always have my phone with me. Almost no chance of losing it, right?

The app creates customized challenges to “hit throughout the day.” It keeps track of distances and calories burned (Striiv actually teamed up with MyFitnessPal to help track nutrition.) Users can compete against friends, or even people they don’t know, for some added motivation. It also creates graphs about weight loss and distance walked.

“MyLand” is also available on the app, so you won’t be missing out by just getting the free app. I wasn’t able to figure out if walking goes toward charity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

I’ve often heard that walking is the first “step” toward becoming healthier. And it looks like Striiv is making great strides to making that easier and more enjoyable. I’d love to try out either of these, but I’ll just have to wait and see if the app comes out for Android.

Download the app for free here
Striiv Smart Pedometer can be purchased here

October 26, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Possible Office of Mobile Health Proposed to Regulate mHealth

We’ve talked about the FDA regulating mobile apps several times here on Smart Phone Health Care.

And now, a new debate on this topic has surfaced — Who should regulate mHealth apps?

Currently, the question is should the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health be in charge of regulation, or should an entirely new department be created? Some believe that special attention needs to be given to mHealth, including Rep. Mike Honda. He is introducing a bill called “Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act,” which proposes creating the “Office of Mobile Health.” Several sources state that this bill will “ensure that competition, innovation, and entrepreunership in the mobile app market” won’t be subject to the “regulatory issues” that are usually applied to “traditional, non-software device types.”

As is expected, there are mixed feelings on this, but according to The FDA Law Blog, this “proposed bill is likely to be welcome by many mobile app developers – in particular the same or startup ones who still wonder why their products would be subject to FDA regulatory oversight at all.”

The article finishes with this:

So the question still remains as to whether medical mobile apps should be regulated by FDA’s CDRH, another office independent CDRH, or simply an office separate from FDA altogether.”

They option they failed to mention though, is the possibility of no regulation at all. Regulating mHealth apps could very well stifle creation. If there are a whole bunch of rules and regulations put in place, many would-be app creators may not want to go to the effort of getting approved, and some ideas may never go further. It’s definitely something to think about. Personally, if the only options are to be regulated by the CDRH, or have an mHealth office created, the mHealth office would be more preferable. Then there would be more focus on getting apps and devices regulated quickly and efficiently, and hopefully more willingness to work with app creators. And, if it is true that competition and innovation won’t be affected negatively, it might not the worst thing ever. We’ll see.

October 25, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Five Challenges of mHealth

What are some of the challenges that have been found with mHealth? Fierce Mobile Health Care discussed five of the most pressing ones that were listed in a recent article at the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The reasons are:

  • Privacy
  • Data security
  • Funding
  • A lack of good examples of the efficacy and cost effectiveness of mHealth in practice
  • The need for the more high-quality research

These are definitely concerns for a reason. As I’ve reviewed different mHealth apps and websites, I often find myself wondering about the privacy — is my information somehow being tracked? I especially have thought about this as I’ve started using a patient portal for my son’s health care. I don’t want anyone being able to view private information concerning my son. One would hope that before launching these services, potential data breaches have been prevented as much as possible. However, it is a risk that one takes when allowing their information (or, in my case, my son’s) to be put in a place that may be a victim of a data breach.

I think one of the biggest issues is that of keeping people involved. I mean, it’s easy to get excited about mHealth, but it’s also very easy to fall of that bandwagon. There needs to be away to keep patient engagement high . . . Though I’m not sure what that would be.

I don’t know much about the other issues cited, but as I read the journal entry and the article as well, I could definitely see why there is cause for concern. I just wonder what can be done — any suggestions? What do you feel are the biggest challenges mHealth faces?

October 23, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Be Careful Where You Eat — It Affects More Than You Realize — Infographic

Tempted to go out to eat? Think again. This infographic shows how where we eat heavily affects health and obesity rates. Yes, it is possible to eat healthy when going out, but it is definitely very hard. Have you seen the portion sizes at most restaurants? They are enough to feed two or three people — which is the reason why my husband and I always share meals. And not only does eating at home versus out affect health, but where you live does as well.

October 22, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Managing Pain With New WebMD App

Yesterday, I received an email from WebMD with news of a new app. It caught me eye, so I decided to look a little more into it.

The app is called Pain Coach, with the subtitle “A Better Day Starts Here.” For anyone that deals with any type of chronic pain, that is definitely a tempting proposition.

When a person goes to the doctor for any type of persistent pain, the doctor is ineveitably going to ask “So, where does it hurt?” Having been in this position myself, I usually draw a blank and give a very generic area — which could indicate a whole variety of problems. This app would be great for a doctor to “prescribe” to a patient who might need a little help pinpointing exactly where the pain is, what the triggers are, and how to describe that pain to the doctor. It would definitely make doctor’s appointments go smoother, in my opinion.

So let’s take a look at what this app actually has to offer.

First off, it is only available for the iPhone — sorry Android users (myself included!) The email I got listed the following features:

  • Doctor-approved information customized to your condition
  • A personal journal that tracks your pain level on scale of 1 to 10, as well as your symptoms, treatments, and triggers. Email a PDF report of your pain history in time for your next doctor visit.
  • Goals to help you manage your pain.
  • Hundreds of daily tips to help you achieve your goals

Here a few screen shots, provided by iTunes:

This shows a basic summary of a particular day. There is definitely a lot of detail, probably more than most doctors really would care about…but it seems pretty easy to track.

This looks like the pain identification center…once again, it has lots of details. I think pinpointing specific times and dates can really show specific triggers for pain.

 

 

And finally, here’s a picture of a graph that can be created to map pain over a certain period of time. I imagine this might be something a physician would be interested in.

As with most mobile health apps, this is a great idea . . . if people actually remember to use it beyond the first few days after the initial download. I’ve been thinking a lot about a post over at Happy EMR Doctor about patient engagement. What is it going to take for patients to actually use medical apps on a long term basis? Either way, I think this is a neat app, and I hope it becomes available for Android phones soon!

This app is absolutely free, and can be downloaded for free here from the iTunes app store.

October 18, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Why Medical App Makers Should Get Apps Certified

Is getting an app certified worth the effort? David Lee Scher, MD, recently listed five reasons why it is a good idea. These reasons are:

1. Consumers, patients and healthcare providers want reliable, safe apps.

2. App stores will request or showcase certified apps.

3. Certification standards will serve as a guide for app developers

4. Certification will become a competitive advantage in the marketplace

5. Certification might become a standard for reimbursement and formulary placement by players.

I’m not exactly sure what it is going to take to get certified, though we have an idea of what the standards Happtique plan to have. David Scher, MD, was the chairman for the panel that drafted the standards for Happtique. It may seem like an additional hassle (especially with the additional issues that might arise if apps are regulated by the FDA), but I think it will be worth it. To be honest, when I see that something has a “seal of approval” from a respected person or company, I’m a lot more likely to trust the product.

Because many of the health apps that are currently on the market (or will be released in the future) are actually being used to help treat people or provide medical information, this certification might have more pull in someone selecting it, as opposed to other apps being certified. I hope that getting certified isn’t a hard process that will discourage creators from investing their time in it. What do you think? Would you be more likely to use an app if it was certified by Happtique, or other certification programs?

October 15, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Times and Days Affect Eating Habits – Infographic From Massive Health

This is another very interesting infographic from Massive Health. Throughout my life, I’ve been trying to avoid eating after 8, consume most of my calories during the earlier part of the day, and when I eat richer foods, limit my portion size. However, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always follow those “rules.” Well, this infographic really made me re-examine my own habits, because I could see that I fell into some of these patterns. Interesting statistics, and it definitely makes me want to eat a good, healthy breakfast! I wonder what mobile health apps can help to change our eating habits.

October 11, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

My First (Actual) Experience With A Patient Portal

During my time of writing about mHealth, I have had the opportunity to discover many apps, patient portals, and PHRs that have been created. However, I haven’t been able to use them beyond my initial review, for the most part. Why? Because most of the physicians my family aren’t really into the whole mHealth trend. I mean, my OB/GYN doesn’t even have a website (granted, he’s about 70 years old, and very much set in his ways). I’ve been kind of disappointed by the lack of technology that my son’s pediatrician’s office has, however. Until recently. A few weeks ago, when we were visiting with one of the PAs in the office, I was absolutely thrilled to see him using a tablet as he talked with us. He quickly pulled up information about our past appointments, and it was neat to actually see this new “era” of medicine in work. Well, besides this, I hadn’t seen much else available.

However, today I heard that the office had launched a patient portal feature to their website. Well, you’d better believe I called the office right away and got set up on it. I wasn’t expecting much, especially because it is still very new, but I have to admit, I’m impressed so far.

It has all the features I look for — the ability to message staff, set up appointments, refill prescriptions, and view information from past appointments. The format of the website is also very impressive. Here are a few screenshots I took (note, I did take out some of the identifying details, so that’s why there are some big blank spaces at times):

This is the main page for the patient portal. As you can see, it’s powered by eClinicalWorks. The front page has some essentials, such a appointment reminders and a quick link to a PHR. On the left, there is an easy to use menu.

I really liked the clinical information section. Because we’ve forgotten to bring my son’s immunization card with us a few times, it isn’t totally updated. Instead of going through the hassle of going to the office to get it figured out, all of the information can be found easily, and I also can find out the names of different problems that had been identified in the past. This did cause me to worry a bit, as there were some issues cited that the doctor never told us concerning our son

And finally, here is the last section I wanted to highlight. I’m someone who loves to keep records, and it’s nice to be able to see the history of the our appointments in the past, and who they were with. There are about 6 or 7 different physicians at this practice, and it sometimes is hard to keep track of who we’ve seen. We were wanting to switch my son’s PCP to one that we saw when he was first born, and I found out who that was easily just by looking at this chart.

 

As you might have noticed on some of these pictures, there is a mobile app in the works for this medical practice, which I’m so excited about. In just the past few months, this doctor’s office has really stepped up their game — first an awesome Facebook page, next the physicians are using tablets, and now the patient portal.

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of calling people and talking on the phone, so the ability to do a lot of that (schedule appointments, request information, refill prescriptions) is very nice. And just as a side note, as I’ve looked through the portal tonight, I discovered a few errors in some of the information that the office had on our family (as in, they listed my son as the emergency contact…for himself. And no phone number was listed for our family,) that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Anyways, I just wanted to share a little bit of my excitement to see how doctors and physicians are starting to embrace the digital world, and realize that’s what patients want. Now if only I can get my OB to get on board, I’ll be a happy camper.

Does your doctor’s office offer a service like this? What do you like about it?

October 8, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.